: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Considering Harris County’s Public Defender System and Youth

Rather than re-post this in full, I’ll just point out my recent post Anticipating Effect of Public Defender System on Representation of Indigent Youth in Harris County on the Children and the Law Blog, part of my work for the Center for Children, Law & Policy. This follows up on my previous post Call for Harris County Public Defender’s Office.

Harris County currently uses a system of appointments by juvenile judges, a system called into question by another Houston Chronicle article – A select few get the cases, and the cash. The article reveals a system, which combined with the fact that judges in Texas are elected, requiring them to campaign and thus to raise campaign funds through donations, that can hardly hope to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The article claims that two of the county’s three juvenile judges “received more than 90 percent of their campaign contributions from the attorneys they appoint.”

The judges, for their part, seem open to a public defender system themselves -

For his part, [Judge] Shelton says he gets no joy from his appointment powers and plans to study public defender offices in other cities. All three judges deny any correlation between contributions and appointments.

“I would be happier if there was a public defender system,” Shelton said.

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